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Bloomberg Calls On Governor To Reduce Cuts To City

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Albany Monday to ask state lawmakers for more financial support, saying the governor's current budget proposal is unfairly harsh on the city.

The mayor testified before a joint Assembly-Senate budget hearing where he urged lawmakers and the governor to reconsider big cuts to education and city agencies.

“The public says spend less, but Albany forces us to spend more,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor says the cuts proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo would cost the city more than $2 billion, more than half of that in cuts to the school budget, and a loss of $300 million in revenue-sharing.

Bloomberg says the Legislature promised this money to New York last fall -- and then changed its mind.

"If Albany feels it must walk away from their obligations because of previous mismanagement, which leaves us with enormous holes in our budget, it is critical that the governor and state Legislature help us reduce our expenses so that we can avoid the kind of layoffs and service cuts that would be devastating to our city,” said Bloomberg.

Bloomberg got into a number of exchanges with legislators, and spent a lot of time arguing that the state and federal government order the city to provide certain services, but do not provide the money to pay for it.

"These are all state and federal mandates and the city will have no recourse but to fill them, state cuts or no,” said the mayor. “The public says ‘spend less,’ but Albany forces us to spend more, and our employees and those who need their services are getting crushed in the middle because if we are spending on things we don't need while sacrificing on things we do need, we all lose."

The mayor also met with the governor and all four legislative leaders Monday who say everything is on the table.

“We will try and do the best for our mutual constituents," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

“We do believe that there are millions and millions and hundreds of millions of dollars that can be provided in mandate relief," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Meantime, State Budget Director Robert Megna is disputing Bloomberg’s claim that New York City is facing a $2 billion cut in aid. He says the city didn’t receive locality aid last year so it’s not a cut.

The mayor has said he would like the ability to layoff teachers based on merit rather than seniority. He also no longer wants the city to pay the private school tuitions of about 4,000 students, wants to create a more affordable pension tier and hopes to eliminate pension bonuses to firefighters and New York City Police Department retirees.

Bloomberg, who also spoke directly to city legislators, says they have an obligation to fight for their constituents -- something some Senate Democrats now relegated to the minority didn't take kindly to.

“He put his energy and his money in senators outside of New York City so to state that now it’s up to New York City senators after he took the resources away from us that’s a level of hypocrisy I can’t ignore," said State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn.

City union representatives at odds with Bloomberg were also in Albany hoping to counteract the mayor's clout.

“We are very concerned that the mayor’s voice amplified by hundreds of millions of dollars speaks very loudly in these halls," said Uniformed Fire Officers Association President Captain Alexander Hagan.

Mayor Bloomberg plans to outline the city’s budget next Thursday.

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